VIEW FROM CALUMPANG: Diego Cagahastian

A Simple, Well-Lived Life & Tayabas Murders

Jan 20, 2023, 12:24 AM
Diego S. Cagahastian

Diego S. Cagahastian


FIRST READ: This column, "View from Calumpang" no longer has a joint byline. My co-writer and long-time friend, Raffy Sarnate, who was a senior among media veterans in Lucena City, has died. He was buried on Thursday at the city's old cemetery, in a lonely hole in the wall, with media friends and family in attendance. It was a simple, well-lived life for Raffy.

When people we now call Marites were not yet called that way, Raffy was already a Marites. He was also what you might call a "mali-mali."But he had a nose for news.What he lacked in grammar and syntax, in the mastery of the written word, he more than compensated with in-person, eyewitness accounts of what happened, embellished of course with his personal biases which were mostly political.Just like any other media person in Lucena.

As a full-fledged Marites, Raffy would relate something like the following, which he obviously heard from another source — A chief of police of a Quezon town was furiously out of his mind. He and his men had apprehended two young men carrying pistols at a checkpoint.It was clearly a violation of the election gun ban.

One of the young men claimed that he was a son of the mayor of another town. The police chief checked and it was true.But he had already maltreated, manhandled, etc. the suspects.He had to do something to avoid being at the receiving end of "revenge" by the influential politician-father of the young man.

So they took the young men outside and he ordered his subordinates to shoot them.

"Barilin mo 'yan, kung hindi, ikaw ang papatayin ko," were the words of the chief of police, as quoted by Justin Bibe—err, the late Raffy Sarnate.

The cops had to shoot the young men to save their very own lives from the wrath of their boss, Sarnate commented then.

Tsk, tsk.The Philippine National Police has gone this low in the quagmire.


Meanwhile, it is good to know that genuine justice is still being dispensed in the courts of Quezon province.

Here's a report from our good friend, Gemi Formaran, of the Journal publications.

"After almost four years of trial, the court convicted three dismissed policemen who have been charged with the 2019 murder of a Quezon town mayor’s son and his aide in Tayabas City.
"Dismissed were a police lieutenant colonel, a former station commander of the Tayabas City Police Station, and his men – a corporal and a patrolman – who were sentenced to two life imprisonments each by Judge Dennis Orendain of the Lucena City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 53 on Thursday.
"The suspects have been detained at Quezon District Jail in Pagbilao, Quezon, for killing Christian Gayeta, 21, son of Sariaya Mayor Marcelo Gayeta, and Christian Manalo, 38, in Tayabas City on the night of March 13, 2019.

"The victims reportedly died in a shootout after they were flagged down at a police checkpoint.
"Mayor Gayeta sought the assistance of Dominador Villanueva, the then agent in charge of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Lucena district office.

"The NBI finally got testimonies of four policemen involved in the incident, disclosing that it was not an encounter but “murder” carried out by policemen themselves.
"Villanueva’s team was also able to gather physical evidence, including camera footage showing the two victims still alive while handcuffed and facing the ground shortly after they were flagged down by cops manning a checkpoint.

"The footage taken by a rookie cop yielded the camera to Villanueva.

"In a resolution dated October 17, signed by then Police Regional Office 4-A commander Brig. General Edward Carranza, the PNP- Regional Internal Affairs Service ordered the “dismissal” from the service of the suspects.

"After the case promulgation, Mayor Gayeta expressed relief and gratitude for the court verdict.
“Tatlong taon, siyam na buwan at dalawampu’t walong araw kaming naghintay, sa wakas ay dumating din ang aming pinakahihintay. Salamat sa Diyos,” said Gayeta in a brief interview by local newsmen."

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